The Third Saturday in October is sacred to those in the Tennessee-Alabama football rivalry.
It’s not normally one that I am all that aware of, with my roots deep in the ACC. But when a friend said that GT was off, I jumped at the chance to go to my first trip to Neyland Stadium.
And what a trip it turned out to be. Tennessee took down Bama in a nailbiter of a 52-49 win, on a walk-off (storm the field) field goal as time expired.
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ESPN GameDay at Tennessee
Most schools are lucky to get Game Day to come to their campus. This was the second time Tennessee hosted Game Day this year.
But where else are you going to be for the Third Saturday in October, when you have the #3 Alabama team against the #6 Tennessee team?
GameDay was at Ayres Hall lawn. Ayres Hall is on the US National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1921, renovations were completed in 2011. The exterior brick work is where the famed orange checkerboard pattern comes from. Today, it is the home of the College of Arts and Sciences and the math department.
Vol Walk and Salute to the Hill
The Vols do pre-game right, with the team coming in during the Vol Walk. Vol Walk is right in front of the main entrance to Neyland Stadium, about 2 hours and 15 minutes before game time. For big games, like say Tennessee-Alabama, the crowd arrives early and is really intense. So get there early if you want a good spot.
About 15 minutes after the Vol Walk, the Pride of the Southland Marching Band does a Salute to the Hill in the March to the Stadium.
Both Vol Walk and the Salute to the Hill are great to take in from the Pedestrian Bridge from Ayres Hall across Philip Fulmer Way. Just know that you can’t be on the bridge during the March to the Stadium until the band passes by. They take up the whole width of the bridge.
Welcome to Neyland Stadium
After the Salute to the Hill, go ahead and make your way into the game (unless you have a tailgate real close by). We finished crossing the Pedestrian Bridge and went towards the center of the stadium. This meant we were walking in on Peyton Manning Pass. And this is where you’ll get a great shot of the main entrance.
If you haven’t been to Neyland before, you’ll need to know a few things…
First, the stadium has been expanded and built on itself over and over. So there are A LOT of gates. And you need to go into your assigned gate. Otherwise, it may be difficult to get where you are supposed to be. They may all connect, but with a full house, it is difficult to get around.
Second, the space is small. Don’t take in anything unnecessary because you will have very little personal room. Seriously, go to the restroom before you make it to your seat. Especially if you are in the middle of a row. Because otherwise you’ll be climbing over people to get out to get food/drink or go to the restroom. Do what you can to avoid unnecessary trips away from your seats.
Third, the place is loud. But it has some great site lines. I loved our seats in the end zone, just above and towards the center from the band and the student section. However, they could definitely improve the acoustics. When they piped in music when the band wasn’t playing, it was difficult to hear anything but the bass. All bass, no treble.
Tennessee fans can celebrate the win with a commemorative hat. Check out these hats from RealManBoobs store on Etsy
Storm the Field, Tear Down the Goal Posts
It was 15 years in the making. Tennessee hadn’t beat Alabama in a decade and a half.
So what would you expect when you have hosted GameDay, you’ve got the number 3 vs 6 teams in the nation facing off, in a historic rivalry, and the game goes down to the very last second?
Why, everyone will storm the field at the end of the game to celebrate. And then they will tear down the goal posts. Despite the $100,000 fine from the SEC. I’m sure that every Tennessee fan says that it was completely worth it!
Congrats to the Tennessee Volunteers for their 52-49 win over Alabama. It was a great trip for my first visit to Neyland Stadium. I don’t know how you will top it next time. Until then, Go Vols!
And yes, I loved the playing of Dixieland Delight during the celebrations. I love the petty factor.
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